Winter is almost here, and if you’re anything like us here at SKIS.com you’re itching to get out on the trails (cross country ski trails that is). With 3,000 miles of groomed terrain that leads you everywhere from frozen waterfalls to scenic vistas, cross country skiing is a great way to explore Michigan’s off-the-beaten path beauty.
Location: Boyne Falls and Harbor Springs (Boyne Highlands)
Boyne offers two full service resorts that are located roughly 30 miles apart. Boyne Mountain is located in Boyne Falls, MI and Boyne Highlands is located in Harbor Springs, MI. Combined, the two resorts offer a total of 43.5 miles of trails for skiers of all ability levels, along with lessons and equipment rentals. At Boyne Highlands a one-mile stretch of trail is lighted on Friday and Saturday nights.
Boyne Mountain states that its trails range from “gentle trails and pine forests to technical terrain, designed to test even the most dedicated Nordic skiers”. Including the 30 mile vistas trails.
Boyne Mountain also offers a Cross Country Experience with instructors. The Cross Country Experience includes a chairlift ride and skiing on the resort’s upper trails, the cost is $75 and requires intermediate ability. Children under 8 years old ski for free.
Lodging is offered through Boyne Mountain Resort and Condos.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters
Location: Roscommon, MI (Near Higgins Lake about 17mi. South of Grayling)
Cross Country Ski Headquarters is family-owned, and has provided nationally recognized cross country skiing experiences for more than 40 years. Offering more than 12 miles of groomed trails for all abilities, they also have a huge inventory of rental skis and equipment, a sizable retail store and a full-service day lodge with cafe. 4 certified instructors are also available for lessons.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters purchased a groomer in 2015 that has the ability to turn hard-packed, icy snow into fresh powder. CCSH has been recognized as one of the Nation’s premier Nordic ski destinations by Outside Magazine, The Clymb and Gear Patrol.
At Cross Country Ski Headquarters the facilities pass is $8 for adults and $5 for kids 16 and under (the best deal in Michigan for cross country skiing). A season sponsorship is available for $38 for individuals and $65 for families.
Location: Ironwood, MI (West side of the Upper Peninsula)
ABR offers the most miles of groomed cross country trails in the state of Michigan, with a whopping 37.28 mi spread out on over 1,100 scenic acres of varied terrain along the Montreal River in Ironwood, MI. ABR’s trails include skate/classic combination trials, along with single track classic and even snowshoeing and multi-use/skijoring trails.
ABR has the longest ski season in the state with reliable snow in April and trails that range anywhere from 1 mile to 8.5 miles. For those who are looking for training hills, the ridges on Peltonen Pass are famous for thrilling hills that are 100-130ft. in elevation gains, but never more than .3 miles in length. ABR’s trails are kept up full time in the off season, ensuring they are ready for winter.
There are a couple of options for on-site lodging at ABR, including the Hillside House; a gorgeous 3 bedroom/3 bathroom house with loft space. Amenities include an open kitchen, dining and living area equipped with a fireplace and a wrap-around porch that offers sunrise and sunset views. Hillside House sleeps 15 and is located 50 feet from the trail so you can ski right out your front door.
Five rustic cabins are located right on the trails and are accessible by ski or snowshoe. The rustic cabins are equipped with their own out houses and wood burning stoves used as a heat source. These cabins offer the bare minimum, so be sure to come prepared. Fresh drinking water and a fire starter kit are included in your stay. The cabins are about .3km-1km. from the trailhead.
For more information on ABR Trails click here.
Keweenaw Trail Systems
Location(s) Middle of Keweenaw Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
- Chassell Classic – Chassell, MI: The Chassell Classic offers 5.8 miles of trials. Trails are maintained by volunteers.
- Michigan Tech Trails – Houghton, MI: Trails are located on the South end of Michigan Tech’s campus on MacInnes Drive. Michigan Tech’s 21.74 miles of trails have been nationally recognized for the quality, variety of terrain and maintenance. The trails are located on 700 acres with loops for all abilities and 4.5 miles of lighted terrain.
- Maasto Hiinto and Churning Rapids – Hancock, MI: Maasto Hiinto and Churning Rapids offer a total of 15.5 miles of trails and feature varied scenery, including scenic views of Portage Lake, marshes, mature forests and meadows. The Hancock trails also take skiers through the John Christianson Wildlife Preserve. A 15 ft. observation tower provides views of Lake Superior, and a meadow trail leads to a beaver pond. The trails also have a warming chalet with restrooms.
- Swedetown – Calumet, MI: Swedetown offers over 18 miles of groomed cross country ski trails. Most of the trails in Swedetown are groomed daily for skating, with set tracks for classic skiing. There are over 3 miles of trails with lights on until 9:00 pm – 7 days a week. Three of the trailheads offer plowed parking lots and there are three marked snowshoeing trails. Bearpaw loop features a lookout of the surrounding area at the water towers. Muggin loop explores a creek and wooded area that is criss-crossed with wild life tracks.
For more information on Keweenaw Trail Systems click here.
Porcupine Mountains State Park
Location: Ontonagon, MI (West side of the Upper Peninsula – shore of Lake Superior)
Porcupine Mountain State Park, the largest in the state offers 25 miles of groomed trails surrounding the Porcupine Mountain ski area for cross country skiers and snowshoers to explore; they also offer ski and snowshoe rentals for those who don’t have their own equipment. Warming shelters can be found along the trail and are stocked with wood if you need to warm up. If you chose to travel further into the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, it opens up nearly 90 miles of trails for ungroomed cross country skiing.
Ontonagon gets it with more than 200 in. of annual snowfall each year, ensuring fresh powder almost every time you hit the trail. The Porcupine Mountain trails range from 1.5-12 miles and wind through old-growth forests and past frozen waterfalls that lead you to scenic vistas. The East and West vistas are a great place to take a break and offer stunning views of Lake Superior.
Winter lodging is available at Porcupine Mountain State Park, this includes the Kaug Wudjoo Lodge that sleeps 12 and overlooks beautiful Lake Superior. There are also three rustic cabins available, along with 16ft. diameter yurts that are accessible by trail.
For more information on the Porcupine Mountains State Park Trails click here.
Valley Spur Trails
Location: Munising, MI (North Central portion of the Upper Peninsula, about 50mi. East of Marquette)
Located in Alger County, Valley Spur Trails offers 27 miles of trail systems and features 10 loops that are groomed daily from December to March. Valley Spur has a deep base thanks to 200-250in. of snowfall annually.
Scenery at Valley Spur includes hardwood forests, groves of Hemlock, stands of Pine and a stream flowing right through the property. One loop follows an old logging railroad spur and the other is located on a moraine carved by glaciers.
Valley Spur features multiple downhill runs on ancient glacial stream beds and another loop winds through an Eastern Hemlock stand that is estimated to be around 300 years old. Valley Spur’s log cabin lodge is open for warming from 10am-4pm Friday, Saturday and Sundays.
For more information on Valley Spur Trails click here.
Location: Thompsonville, MI (30miles Southwest of Traverse City)
Rated #1 in the state by Michigan Living Magazine, Crystal Mountains 18 miles of meticulously groomed cross country ski trail network is designed for all ability levels.
The terrain ranges from rolling hills through stands of hardwoods like Oak and Aspen to more difficult, black diamond routes that run through deep valleys and open fields at the Northern edge of Manistee National Forest. Crystal Mountain also illuminates 2.5 miles of trails for night skiing.
A new XC Training Center includes a mini-trail system with flat and up-and-downhill sections that are made specifically for learning and improving classical and skate techniques.
Ski lesson packages are available through Crystal Mountain.
For more information on Crystal Mountain Trails click here.
Location: Williamsburg, MI (East of Traverse City)
The Vasa Pathway in Williamsburg, MI is the site of the famous North American Vasa Festival of Races each February.
Vasa Pathway features an impressive 16.7-mile groomed trail system that has loops of 1.6 mi, 3.1 mi and 15.9 mi. Vasa is located in Pere Marquette State Forest, and the loops range from level and gentle to challenging and hilly winding around hardwood, stands of Pine and Cedar and Scenic Vistas.
Vasa’s snowshoe trail is across from the grooming barn; it runs up through the Acme Creek Valley on the West side, loops around Headwaters and returns down the East side of the trail. The approximate total distance is 2.5 miles, and consists of 3 loops. Snowshoers must stay to the sides of the groomed trail, and not step over the classic tracks. Dogs on leashes are welcome on the snowshoe trail.
The Vasa Pathway is owned by the Michigan DNR and groomed by TART Trails through a contract with the MDNR. Trail user donations to TART Trails help provide the funding for the maintenance of Vasa Pathway.
For more information on Vasa Pathway Trails click here.
Big M Ski Area
Location: Welleston, MI (Between Manistee and Cadillac)
With almost 40 miles of trails nestled in the heart of the Manistee National Forest, 18 miles are specifically groomed for skiers and have a variety of terrain for all ability levels.
Paths meander through Hardwoods and Pines that take skiers up and down hills, offering outstanding views of the forest.
Big M is open for cross country skiing and snowshoeing at the side of the groomed trails. Big M’s trails are not wide enough for skate skiing, if you would like to skate ski see the Manistee Non-Motorized Trail System nearby.
For more information on Big M Ski Area Trails click here.
Location: Marquette, MI (North Central portion of the Upper Peninsula)
Noquemanon Trails is the official site of the Noquemanon Ski Marathon, a premier cross country ski event in the Midwest.
Noquemanon offers 31 miles of trails that cater to all skill levels, and the terrain ranges from gentle hills and flat lake crossings, to significant climbs. The trails include views of Lake Superior, Hogback Mountain and centuries-old stands of White Pines. The BLP section of the trail was completed in 2015 and provides a pathway to a rugged, ungroomed section of wilderness terrain along the Dead River.
Noquemanon has a total of seven trailheads for easy access; three of them are in or near downtown Marquette, two North of the city, one in Big Bay and one in Ishpeming.
Amenities at the trailhead include restrooms, ski and snowshoe rentals, snacks, a wood-fired social area and free parking. The Fit Strip trailhead offers lighted skiing.
For more information on Noquemanon Trails click here.